Sunday, March 29, 2015

Snake Queen

I'm dreaming. I know I'm dreaming. It doesn't lessen my terror.

I'm in Israel (as a tourist? Perhaps; my dream isn't providing much back story).

I walk into a large synagogue-mosque with pews divided down the aisle between Jews on the right and Muslims on the left. I know I'm dreaming, and I know how sophomoric this would be if it were an actual bit of fiction, but it's only a dream.

I'm sure that someone is going to set off a bomb in here. People start filing in ahead of me wearing backpacks that I'm worried contain explosives.

Once the synagogue-mosque is full, a rabbi starts speaking. He's wearing a white robe and papal hat. Having never been to a synagogue, I realize that my mind is using the pope's regalia to fill in the blank.

"What a day we have here, where Israel and Palestine have come together to worship," he says. "We are all closer to death."

This elicits shouts of consternation from both sides of the religious divide.

As the shouting continues, the rabbi and the imam unfold a yard-long length of connected sachets containing a brown powder. The imam pours some water into one of the open sachets, and it grows to the size of a large bag. Then the imam and the rabbi begin eating from the over-sized sachet like dogs feasting on kibble, or children bobbing for apples.


I'm somewhere else now. In my dream, I call it nextwhere. A friend of mine has just bought a new car. He asks me to come along on its maiden voyage, but I decline. There's something else I'd rather do, but I don't know what that is.

One good thing about dreams is that regrets are easily erased; so when I decided that turning down my friend's offer to christen his new car was a bad idea, he was still there when I returned and hopped in.

No car has ever looked like this. Compact, with room for a single driver in the front seat and one passenger in the back, I start wondering who the hell would want to drive such a tiny thing. It was like a phone booth on wheels. In for a dime, in for a dollar.

As we're racing down the highway, obstacles start to appear: first a crashed bus, then an oil tanker engulfed in flames. Ronnie (not his real name) is driving at an incredible pace, but in the back seat all I can see is danger.

"Ronnie, pull the fuck over," I say. Even though I'm dreaming, I feel really bad about using the F-word.

We stop and get out of the car. I ask Ronnie for a cigarette, but he's not there anymore. Instead, a curly haired, sinewy man with a face covered in motor oil and a ten-year-old boy approach.

The man and the boy are speaking Spanish and arguing. I understand none of it. After their back-and-forth concludes, the man tells me he knows a good place to hide. I don't know what I should be hiding from, but I follow him anyway.

We drop down, one after another, into a basement full of cinder blocks and paint fumes.

The man is shouting to the boy in Spanish, shoving him to the center of the basement's concrete floor. Then he strips the boy of his T-shirt and shorts. The boy looks terrified.

"Hey!" I yell, finally aware of what is going on. "Leave the kid alone!"

The man walks over to me. He's breathing through his mouth and nose at the same time, menacingly.

"Don't get in my way," he says in English. "I don't want to bring you pain, but I will. All you need to do is watch."

There's a small twine rope hanging down from the ceiling. I grab it.

"You even think about hurting that kid and I'm going to strangle you with this! You got it?" I scream.

I strangled him with that. Then I put a shard of glass into his dead forehead. I wanted to put a period on the sentence.

I don't know where the fictional dream-boy I saved is now, but hopefully he's somewhere comfortable.


"Dan, come on!" my roommate shouts. "Aren't you done yet?"

"Almost, but I don't know what to call it," I say.

"How about 'Asshole of the Year,' or 'Requiem for a Jerk?'"

Snake Queen

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